When I was a senior at Michigan State one of the artifacts that I had to include in my culminating portfolio prior to completion of the teacher education program was my educational philosophy. Amongst all of the other pieces that comprised this compilation of what I had learned and hoped to do in the future, I struggled with the philosophy. The reason, I distinctly remember, is that it was based on a set of ideals that had no root in experience. Sure I had been in classrooms and led lessons as part of my program, but in reality I didn’t know education well enough at that point to do anything other than dream on paper.
Fast forward to now, ten years into my education career, and I am still not sure that I have enough of the requirements to philosophize on this ever-changing field. In fairness to the teachers, coaches, students, and the community that I serve, though, I think it is important to try. I have hosted a number of Coaches Advanced Program classes for the MHSAA at my building and one of the most interesting tasks that coaches are asked to do early on in the program is conceptualize their coaching philosophy. With that as the motivation behind my thinking I write this post now.
I preface my full educational philosophy (and I promise that I will get to it very soon) by saying that I have looked back at that idealistic artifact from my youth and have smiled while shaking my head. I was naive, understandably, about a lot of things back then. An aspect that jumps out to me is how long this philosophy was; it was if I was being paid by the word (I know hypocritical in light of the growing length of this post). How did I ever expect to communicate my philosophy if it were that long?
Which brings me to the heart of the matter; an educational philosophy, or any philosophy for that matter, needs to be short and sweet and easily communicable to be effective. Essentially, a philosophy (at least in my opinion) should feel like a mantra. One of my favorite movies is “Inception” which focuses on altering dreams. In the movie, the team of good guys is tasked with implanting an idea that will change everything. The greatest challenge in doing so is that an idea needs to be stripped down and broken into its essential piece; it needs to be a seed of simplicity that the brain can then take and develop.
With this nagging quote driving me, I present my educational philosophy, simple though it may be.
That’s it, simple and sweet. The way I see it, no matter the role that I play in education, be it teacher, coach, administrator. or even student is about the creation of opportunities. As a student, my education has always opened doors to future interests that would improve my quality of life. As a teacher, I taught more than just content and aimed to equip my students with the tools necessary for success. As an administrator, both an assistant principal and athletic director, the decisions that I make all have the goal of the creation of opportunities for success for students, athletes, teachers, and the community.
Education to me is about improving your quality of life. It is about creating opportunities for yourself and others around you to do amazing things.
Thanks for your patience.